Iran attacks bases housing US troops

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7:13 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Top Iranian official tweets image of Iranian flag following attack

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who is also a politician and representative of the Supreme Leader, tweeted an image of the Iranian flag following reports of attacks on al-Asad air base.

7:04 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Iran's IRGC hit air base with surface-to-surface missiles, according to state news

Iran’s state-run news Press TV reports the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Asad in Anbar province in western Iraq.

The attack comes after a vow to retaliate "the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander, Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani."

"Tens of surface-to-surface missiles" were fired at the strategic air base. The attack was later confirmed by the White House, the report said.

The IRGC added that it would release more details about the strike.

6:59 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

US official confirms some sort of attack occurred at al-Asad

A US defense official confirms to CNN that there has been some sort of attack on al-Asad air base where US troops are stationed. The official did not have any more details

6:51 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Pelosi got news of rocket attack during meeting with Democrats

During a meeting with key House Democrats on Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was discussing the situation in Iran when she was handed a note with news of a rocket attack on a US military base in Iraq, lawmakers who attended the meeting said.

Rep. Dan Kildee said she paused the discussion to alert the members of the Steering Committee of the news.

“Pray,” Pelosi told members, according to Rep. Debbie Dingell.

Rep. Ted Lieu added that Pelosi said it is a serious time.

6:57 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Trump briefed on rocket attacks in Iraq

President Trump was briefed on reports of rocket attacks at an air base where US troops are housed in Iraq, his spokesperson said.

"We are aware of the reports of attacks on US facilities in Iraq. The President has been briefed and is monitoring the situation closely and consulting with his national security team," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

6:56 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps says it hit air base in Iraq

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is taking responsibility for a rocket attack at an Iraqi air base housing US troops.

The IRGC said, “It has hit US Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq with tens of missile,” Press TV urgent banner read. 

The IRGC has warned the US of more “crushing responses in case of new aggression," a banner on Iran’s state-run Press TV said. The IRGC said it will target any regional state that becomes a platform for US aggression, a second banner read.

The warning follows the IRGC claiming responsibility for hitting the Ain al-Asad air base, which houses US forces in Iraq, with tens of missiles.

 

6:54 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

10 rockets hit Al Asad Air Base in Iraq

At least 10 rockets hit Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq where US forces are based, Qatri al-Obeidi, one of the Sunni commanders of the Paramilitary Forces in the nearby town of al-Baghdadi, told CNN.

The commander said the shelling has stopped for now. 

Al Asad Air Base is about 124 miles west of Baghdad.

5:58 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

McConnell, Pelosi and Schiff depart Iran briefing

Three of the eight "Gang of Eight" members were seen departing a briefing on Iran this evening.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the three lawmakers seen leaving, said it was a "good meeting." The others — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff — did not speak.

National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone conducted the briefing, a US defense official said.

5:10 p.m. ET, January 7, 2020

Pompeo orders diplomats not to meet with Iranian opposition groups amid tensions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a cable to all US missions overseas ordering diplomats not to meet Iranian opposition groups without specific approval because it could undermine the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts with the Iranian regime, according to a copy of the cable that CNN obtained. 

“Many exiled Iranian opposition groups try to engage U.S. officials regularly to gain at least the appearance of tacit support and enhance their visibility and clout. Direct U.S. government engagement with these groups could prove counterproductive to our policy goal of seeking a comprehensive deal with the Iranian regime that addresses its destabilizing behavior,” Pompeo wrote in the cable.

The cable was first reported by Bloomberg.

The cable lists a number of Iranian opposition groups, including Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and five other Iranian opposition groups which are off limits without specific approval. John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security adviser, has previously said the MEK is a “viable opposition” to the current Iranian regime.

Last month, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, met with Iranian opposition groups that are linked to the MEK. Bolton and Giuliani have also given paid speeches on the group’s behalf. During one of those speeches last year, Giuliani called for regime change in Iran.

The MEK, which was previously on a US terrorism list, paid Bolton to give speeches on its behalf and once employed Giuliani.

Pompeo warned that it would be “counterproductive” to engage these groups. He said that some of them have a history of using violence to achieve political objectives and that some of them seem to overthrow the Iranian regime.

Given the escalating tension with Iran in the wake of the strike which killed Qasem Soleimani, the cable sent a clear message that the Trump administration wants to avoid the perception that they are conspiring with groups to push for regime change.

In recent days, Trump administration officials have not laid out any specific steps they are taking to engage in diplomacy with Iran, though they have said that they are willing to do so. Iran, over the last year, has not acted upon any of Trump’s comments saying that he is willing to meet Iranian leadership.

In the cable, Pompeo cited the administration’s willingness to seek a “comprehensive deal” with Iran that covers a range of Iranian activities including “its destabilizing behavior, including its nuclear program, missile program, support for terrorism, and malign regional behavior.”

The State Department has not replied to a request for comment.